Thursday, June 30, 2011

On Citizenship

[My faith matters column for July 2nd issue of the Northwest Arkansas Gazette]

What I'm about to share with you, dear reader, is, admittedly, a strongly bibliophilic form of patriotism. It's not for everyone, but it works for me. For most of my adult life, I've made an effort, during the period between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, to read at least a few books on American government and citizenship. Often the publishing industry feeds my addiction, with new works on John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson appearing each summer.

For example, a few year's ago I read Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine: The Secret World of the Supreme Court. I fell in love with the quirky asceticism of Justice David Souter and his "third way" approach to the constitution, and I gained a nuanced understanding of how Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's sensitivity to public consensus and the middle way kept judicial decision-making considerably in line with popular opinion through the era.

This year, I finally got around to reading the work of Jeffrey Stout. Stout's Democracy and Tradition is, for lack of a better term, a "game-changer." At the time of its publication, many people working at the crossroads of religion and democracy read and commented on it. Since then, it is often cited in bibliographies and footnotes.  

But not only that. Stout's book has reinvigorated commentary and conversation on, as well as commitment to, local democracy and citizenship (and so, not surprisingly, his most recent book bears the title Blessed are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America). Often it is religious communities and church leaders who are most likely to be about the business of grassroots community organizing. Faith traditions and democratic traditions, though not twins, feed and encourage one another.

Religious communities are often very good at feeding the hungry, collecting clothes for those in need, and even building shelter for the homeless. But the surprising narrative offered by Stout is that religious communities, at their best, although not always and certainly not in every place, do some of their most important work when they function as a critical voice in civil society, addressing the root causes of hunger, need, and homelessness rather than simply mitigating them. 

Which is to say that the exercise of critical thought and reason is, in this construal, one of the most important things religious communities can do in a democracy. It is our way of being patriotic, to explore "the role of free public reason in a political culture that includes conflicting religious conceptions of the good" (2). 

If you're pondering this weekend how to be a better citizen of our great nation, and religious to boot, consider Stout's admonition: "The point of view of a citizen is that of someone who accepts some measure of responsibility for the condition of society and, in particular, for the political arrangements it makes for itself. To adopt this point of view is to participate in the living moral tradition of one's people, understood as a civic nation. It is the task of public philosophy, as I understand it, to articulate the ethical inheritance of the people for the people while subjecting it to public scrutiny" (5). 

Perhaps Stout's greatest metier is his willingness to charitably read those with whom he disagrees. This is both a mark of his theorizing as well as what he celebrates about democracy. Democracy encourages the formation of "publics of accountability," citizen groups that hold officials accountable, perpetually, generously struggling against injustice. Such critique is integral to democracy as such. It is what citizens do. "The cure for democracy's ills is... more democracy." 

Stout is very interested in ensuring that everyone has their say, and specifically that those who have religious commitments of any sort be able to bring their religious reasons to bear in the public sphere. "Any citizen who chooses to express religious reasons for a political conclusion would seem, then, to enjoy the protection of two rights in doing so: freedom of religion and freedom of expression... indeed, I would encourage religiously committed citizens to make use of their basic freedoms by expressing their premises in as much depth and detail as they see fit when trading reasons with the rest of us on issues of concern to the body politic" (64). Note what Stout is not saying. He is not saying that religious people can compel others to specific religious practices (like praying in school) in public. Rather, he is saying part of public reasoning includes articulating your religious premises for the conclusions you come to concerning the democracy we are together forming.

I can commend Stout's book to readers of this newspaper for many reasons, but finally, there is something pleasant about simply spending time with an author who understands himself to be working in a tradition first explored by folks like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. Such an author ends up offering a bon mot like the following: "My advice, therefore, is to cultivate the virtues of democratic speech, love justice, and say what you please" (85). That's a word worth pondering while the fireworks fly. Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Walking the Neighborhood: Day 3

A good friend and professor from St. Olaf College, upon reading my blog two weeks ago, suggested I read The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau as a way of thinking about my Tuesday walks from a philosophical and sociological perspective. I took him up on the suggestion, ordered the book, and have begun reading. The prose of French post-structuralist philosophers is never quite my cup of tea, but de Certeau is a bit clearer than his compatriots, so it hasn't been as bad as all that. Before I describe my walk, let me offer a couple of nuggets from his chapter on "Walking in the City."

"The act of walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language or to the statements uttered" (97).

"Walking affirms, suspects, tries out, transgresses, respects, etc. the trajectories it 'speaks'" (99).

"The art of 'turning' phrases finds an equivalent in an art of composing a path (tourner un parcours)" (100).

"To walk is to lack a place...the moving about that the city multiplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place" (103).

"To practice space [by walking] is thus to repeat the joyful and silent experience of childhood; it is, in a place, to be other and to move toward the other." (110)

Today I started the walk with a companion. Cynthia Nance, until recently dean of the law school at the University of Arkansas, and on the law faculty there, was kind enough to join me. We started in the church parking lot and headed north along Old Missouri up to Joyce. On previous weeks I had walked some of the neighborhood immediately around the vicinity of the church, but I wanted to walk along Joyce today in more of the commercial and retail part of our neighborhood.

Although our own church is in what you might call "church alley", Joyce lacks any churches. In fact, we may be the closest church to this section of Fayetteville. Our first stop was at a complex of buildings that includes the Social Security administration, a health coaching firm (http://www.trestletree.com/), and Youthbridges. Here's where the art of walking the neighborhood comes into play--you start to learn how to enter commercial and business buildings as a non-customer and introduce yourself and navigate the conversation.

Trestletree was the most simple. Once we got the attention of some of the employees, we had a wonderful conversation and learned about the health coaching work they do. They do health coaching for a variety of businesses and national health care firms, but based out of Fayetteville. We peeked in the windows at some of the coaches (startling them in the process). At the Social Security administration, we didn't actually talk to anyone. The lobby was full of people who were queued up to ask questions about their benefits, and chatting up a desk worker would have been like budging in line at the DMV--not a good idea. We did talk about whether or not there would be a way to walk into a place like that and bless the people who were in line. Hand out flowers? Bring in bottles of water? Certainly it is a group of people in need of a little move and support.

The walk gave us ample time to catch up on life and chat. That's the joy of walks, they're fun solo or in pairs. When you walk with someone else, you grow in your knowledge of them. When you walk alone, you grow in the knowledge of yourself. Either way, it's worth the time to stroll.

Youthbridges is an outstanding organization in the Fayetteville area that provides residential, preventive, and counseling care for at risk youth. The front desk worker was completely new to the job, but she did great at telling us a bit about her office and Youthbridges more generally.

We then crossed the street to Paradise Valley Golf Club (http://www.paradisegolfac.com/). This private 18-hole golf course forms the border for the northern edge of the neighborhood we live in, and I go by it almost daily either on runs or up to the commercial district. The interior is decidedly old school (wood panelling) and the clubhouse even more so. It was a bit difficult to chat with anyone, and the pro was grilling burgers and answering the phone. They have a cute little pool, but mostly its a traditional club and golf course.

Then back across the street to First State Bank, warmest greeting so far. We were offered cold bottles of water, all the employees in the bank greeted us and chatted us up, and even knew (now former) Dean Nance by face and reputation (a good thing). While chatting it started to rain, and we were beginning to wonder if we were going to need to call in some kind of transportation when, lo and behold, my wife pulls up with the kids in the van. She had been driving through the neighborhood on the way back from the ballet store, and happened to spot us.

So we piled into the van, rode through the storm to Firehouse Subs, and watched the lightning while we ate lunch. Firehouse is the best sub shop I've eaten at in Fayetteville. They have a hot sauce bar with the sauces rated on a scale of 1-10 for hotness, and they make a variety of hot sub sandwiches. Kids get free fireman's hats.

The storm blew over, Cynthia hitched a ride with the fam back to church, and I continued my walk, now solo. Back side of Firehouse Subs, and new to that space as of two weeks ago, is Fayetteville Nutrition. They make health smoothies, help people achieve their health goals, sell muscle building supplements, etc. It just so happened that the aunt of a young woman whose wedding I had just officiated was in drinking a smoothie, so I had a good chance to chat with the owner and a few other folks in the store. On their counter they had a McDonald's kids meal that had been aging there for six weeks with no ill effects. By way of contrast.

This is as good a place as any to mention that on these walks, I come across a lot of vacant retail space and abandoned construction projects. This part of Joyce was all developed in the last five years or so, and sees all the effects of the building mania outlying areas of towns engaged in, and then the more recent slow-down. It's a mixed phenomenon, however, because although there is vacant space, there are also new and thriving businesses opening up all the time.

Next stop was the Lindsey building. This is the largest building on Joyce, five stories tall. I had never been inside it. You can't live in Northwest Arkansas without seeing the name Lindsey all over, because Lindsey both manages tons of properties in the area, and also sells real estate. Their building on Joyce is unique, and was definitely the best discovery of the day. Inside, it's a work of art! If you live in Fayetteville, go check it out soon. Each floor has tons of beautiful art gracing the walls (including the first floor, with a mural of the Fayetteville town square), but the best part are the stairwells. Although the stairwells are constructed like any stairwell in any multi-story building in the US as the fire access alternative to the elevators, what Lindsey has done with these stairwells is outstanding. They're full of art, memorabilia, hand-painted signs, flags, photos, poems, and aphorisms.

The front desk clerk encouraged me to walk them both, so I climbed the one set of stairs to the fifth floor, then circled each floor and did the other stairwell on the way down. It's really hard to describe (in this case a picture would be worth a thousand words), but I think you can imagine.

Back out on the street, I had a phone call from an old friend and roommate. Lars, who studied with me for a semester at the Lutheran House of Studies in Washington D.C., was calling from Arizona. Nice to catch up about ministry and life, and a long enough chat to walk from Lindsey to the Barnes & Noble for a coffee, then back down the hill, where I stopped in at our Title Company to say hello to the folks who had helped us do the title for our house, and I tried to stop in and see our Thrivent Rep as well, recently moved to the corner of Joyce and College, but he was out on business.

Stopped over at the Macintosh store, saw a courier bag I totally want to purchase, played the role of actual customer rather than pastor walking the neighborhood, then back out on the street to visit the other largest building on Joyce, the Proctor and Gamble (P & G) corporate headquarters. They employ 200 people at this location, all servicing Walmart and Tyson as a "vendor." Unlike Lindsey, where I could walk around undisturbed, in P & G I was only allowed to take one step past the reception desk and then duck low to see the nicely decorated atrium space of the building proper.

That's a whole topic to itself, how various businesses do or don't think through hospitality.

Back on the street, back to Butterfield Trail retirement center to visit Carl Maedl, the oldest member of our congregation (102). Sat with him for a while and prayed the Lord's Prayer and some psalms (he doesn't often wake up at this point, but it is, I believe, still important to just spend time with him), then a walk through the lush landscaping of Butterfield back down to Mud Creek Trail, then a brisk walk back to church, stopping to visit with the two folks who live in the duplex directly north of the church, a pair I had not yet met. Short chat with them (what time are Sunday services, do you have children's programming?), and then back to the church to write.

God bless you. I hope this inspires readers to walk their own neighborhoods.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What faith are we passing on to our youth? - Video Contest - LivingLutheran.com

Please consider voting for our new video, part of the ELCA Living Lutheran Video Contest... The more votes we get from viewers, the more likely we are to win the popular voting portion of the contest.

What faith are we passing on to our youth? Click and vote today. Thanks!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Draft Dissertation Bibliography

By August of this year, I need to have my dissertation proposal (two-pages), outline, and bibliography submitted to Fuller Theological Seminary. All parts of this are coming along fine, and I wanted to share the tentative bibliography, just in case anyone who reads through this list may have some kind of algorithm in their head that makes them think, "Ooh, I see he's reading these works, and he really ought to read [fill in the blank]."

Of course, this is just a working draft. I'll be deleting out anything that seems like padding once I get closer to the actual writing, but these are all titles I've read or will read in preparation, even if they aren't actually cited later on in dissertation. Also, I haven't alphabetized the list yet, as you'll see.

Enjoy:


Johnson, Maxwell. The Rites of Christian Initation: Their Evolution and Interpretation.
Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1999.

Gerhardsson, Birger. Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission
in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

Goody, Jack. The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1977.

Innis, Harold A. The Bias of Communication, 2nd Edition. Toronto: University of Toronto
Press, 2008.

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York: Picador, 1973.

McCluhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Corte Madera, CA:
Gingko Press, 2003.

_______. The Medium is the Massage. Berkeley, CA: Ginkgo Press, 1967.

_______. The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.

Ong, Walter J. The Presence of the Word. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

_______. Orality and Literacy. Routledge, 2002.

Boyd, Danah. Taken Out of Context. UC Berkeley, PhD dissertation, 2008.

Bruns, Axel. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage.
New York: Peter Lang, 2008

Burgess, Jean and Joshua Green. Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture.
Cambridge: Polity. 2009.

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. W. W. Norton.
2008.

Halavais, Alexander. Search Engine Society. Cambridge: Polity. 2009.

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York
University Press, 2006.

Borgmann, Albert. Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology. Grand
Rapids: Brazos Press. 2003.

Campbell, Heidi. Exploring Religious Community Online: We Are One in the Network.
New York: Peter Lang. 2005.

Crouch, Andy. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Downer’s Grove, IL:
Intervarsity Press, 2008.

Drane, John. After McDonaldization: Mission, Ministry, and Christian Discipleship in an
Age of Uncertainty. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 2008.

Estes, Douglas. SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan. 2009.

Friesen, Dwight. The Kingdom Connected: What the Church Can Learn from Facebook,
the Internet, and Other Networks. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 2009.

Ward, Pete. Participation and Mediation: A Practical Theology for the Liquid Church.
London: SCM Press. 2008.
           
Coupland, Douglas. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. New York: St.
Martin’s Press, 1991.

_______. Marshall McCluhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!. New York: Atlas and
Company, 2011.

Pagitt, Doug. Church in the Inventive Age. Minneapolis, Sparkhouse Press, 2010.

Dean, Kenda Creasy. Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the
American Church. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Pettegree, Andrew. The Book in the Renaissance. Yale University Press, 2010.

Gleick, James. The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. Pantheon, 2011.

Blascovich, Jim and Jeremy Bailenson. Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New
Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution. HarperCollins, 2011.

Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show
Business. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less  from
Each Other. Basic Books, 2011.

Thomas, Douglas and John Seely Brown. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the
Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Self-published, 2011.

Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural
Formation. Baker Academic, 2009.

Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Oxford University
Press, 2011.

_______. Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant. Eerdmans, 2010.

_______. Shaming the Devil: Essays in Truthtelling. Eerdmans, 2004.

Brock, Brian. Christian Ethics in a Technological Age. Eerdmans, 2010.

Weinberger, David. Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital
Disorder. Holt Paperbacks, 2007.

Dickerson, Matthew. The Mind and the Machine: What It Means to be Human and Why
It Matters. Brazos Press, 2011.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 2004.

Doctorow, Cory. Makers. Tor, 2010.

Stephenson, Neal. Anathem. Harper Perennial, 2010.

Jenson, Robert W. Essays in Theology of Culture. Eerdmans, 1995.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Hamlet in Purgatory. Princeton University Press, 2001.

Detweiler, Craig, ed. Halos and Avatars: Playing Video Games with God. Westminster
John Knox Press, 2010.

Flory, Richard W and Donald E. Miller, ed. Gen X Religion. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Johnson, Maxwell E. Living Water, Sealing Spirit: Readings on Christian Initiation.
Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1995.

Merriman, Michael W. Ed. The Baptismal Mystery and the Catechumenate. New York:
            The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1990.

Stone, Bryan. Evangelism After Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Christian
Witness. Brazos Press, 2007.

Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scriptures in the Letters of Paul. Yale University Press,
1989.

J√ľngel, Eberhard. God’s Being is in Becoming: The Trinitarian Being of God in the
Theology of Karl Barth. Eerdmans, 2001.

Peterson, Eugene H. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ.
Eerdmans, 2010.

Gorringe, T.J. Furthering Humanity: A Theology of Culture. Burlington, VT: Ashgate,
2004.

Pariser, Eli. The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You. New York: The
Penguin Press, 2011.

Martin, Jeff and C. Max Magee. The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of
Books. Berkeley: Soft Skull Press, 2011.

Illich, Ivan. In the Vineyard of the Text: A Commentary on Hugh’s Didascalion.
University of Chicago Press, 1993.

De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. University of California Press, 1984.

Satterlee, Craig Alan. Ambrose of Milan’s Method of Mystagogical Preaching. The
Liturgical Press, 2002.

Harmless, William. Augustine and the Catechumenate. Liturgical Press, 1995.

Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.
HarperCollins, 2008.

Dehaene, Stanislas. Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read. Penguin,
2009.

Wuthnow, Robert. After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings are
Shaping the Future of American Religion. Princeton University Press, 2010.

Smith, Christian. Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Oxford University Press, 2009.


http://www.lexorandi.es/TeologiaLiturgica/Liturgy%20in%20the%20Absence%20of%20Hippolytus.pdf

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Best Run in Fayetteville

Obviously a subjective assertion, that the run I was on today is the best run in Fayetteville. Nevertheless, I'll make it. For one, the run from our house is historic. I go past Butterfield Trail Elementary and along Old Wire Road, historic trails and roads that were the main passage between Chicago and San Francisco for much of the 19th century. No one has written a song about them like Route 66. But the history is significant, and we live and run right on it, daily.

Then, along Mud Creek Trail, a pleasant little path that is the only major bike trail that runs east and west through the city. Then north, past the best pizza place (and best pretzel place) in town, Mellow Mushroom. Finally, you go through Veterans Park, where you can read a sign to your kids about opposum (opposable thumbs), owls (that eat other owls), coyote (who eat gardens), hawks (who eat snakes). Said sign fuels conversation until you arrive at the Lake Fayetteville Dam (pictured). Did I mention that passengers in the jogging stroller have free golf balls they picked up from the run past the country club, and they imaginatively entertain the idea, "What if we dropped the golf balls into the creek?" Of course they don't do this, but they taunt each other with the possibility.

Then, further along to the turn-around near Lewis and Clark outfitters, back through Veterans Park, and home to the house where I had the forethought (necessary today) to have cranked the air-conditioning for recovery. Popsicles. Naps. Best run in Fayetteville.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Little Portion

When I was in high school, I was highly enamored of talented Christian guitarists like Phil Keaggy and John Michael Talbot. I aspired to their level of technical proficiency (even though at that time my instrument was trombone rather than guitar), and their music was a good break from the more trodding Christian rock derivatives.

Today, I drove up to Eureka Springs (carpooling with the pastor of Peace Lutheran in Rogers) to gather at Little Portion Hermitage with clergy from Northwest Arkansas. Little Portion is the hermitage John Michael Talbot founded. He's a convert (I think) to Roman Catholicism, and his music ministry has transitioned more in that vein over the years.

Little Portion gifted each of us with a tape (!) of his music when we gathered today, so I put it into the tape player of our Jetta. We bought our Jetta in 2002, and I actually have never used the tape player. So the inaugural music coming through that system was monastic guitar music that sounds, surprise, a lot like other New Age music you can buy in stores all over Eureka Springs. I'm sure this music is inspiring to many, but it just ain't for me.

Nevertheless, the hospitality at the hermitage was top notch, simple but warm, and the facilities and surrounding country side are glorious. We spent our morning praying the daily suffrages, discussing what we see God up to in our lives, and I presented my article from the spring issue of Lutheran Forum (per their request) on Gerhard Forde's sermons.

The highlight of the morning, however, was twofold. First, I always love going on a drive with the pastor from Peace. We've carpooled together a few times and we always have much to cover. In fact, on our last trip, we were so engrossed in conversation that we missed an exit and almost drove from Tulsa to Missouri rather than Arkansas.

This drive was also exceptional. About half way up to Eureka, we spotted a very large (about the size of a large backpack) snapping turtle. Pastor Paul had us turn around to protect it, and although by the time we got to it it was already heading into the ditch, he was so thrilled to see it he picked it up by the shell to  show me. In the meantime, I'm saying, "Do you really want to pick that thing up?" Thinking to myself, "I really don't know where the closest hospital is..." When he picked it up, that turtle could shoot its head out and over the back of its shell quite a distance, though not far enough to get ahold of Paul's neck!

We did catch and release, got back in the car, and went on our way.

Of interest also is the fact that, in order to assemble a retreat's worth of Lutheran clergy in Northwest Arkansas, you have to go as far as Diamond City, Mountain Home, and add some Episcopalian clergy from Harrison, in addition to folks from Fayetteville, Rogers, and environs. Nice group of folks, with, surprise, lots of Iowa connections!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover

This is one of those books I purchased on a whim because it was suggested on Amazon. Perhaps the second time ever that I've done so, and it has ended up being a pleasant little choice. It's a small collection of short essays by great writers. There could be some danger of everything in the book functioning as an exercise in nostalgia, but this doesn't happen. The essays are surprisingly fresh.

In fact, it might be my favorite summer beach read. Each essay is short, often incredibly humorous, and for anyone who cares about the future of the book, generative for greater insight.

Now if I can just look up Jeff Martin and figure out how he has successfully edited and published such volumes. A great idea, coming from an editor in neighboring Tulsa, OK.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Theology Table at Nightbird Books: Canon, Confession, Creed, and Comparative Theology

This class will begin September 7th, 2011 and will last 14 weeks, meeting Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Nightbird Books. 5-5:30 informal gathering and conversation, 5:30-6:30 discussion of course material. The class will be taught by Pastor Clint Schnekloth, together with Jon Amos and Tom Stockland.

The concept: to explore what it means to have a canon (Scripture), creed, and confessional texts, and place them in comparison with other faith traditions. All Christian communities can benefit from continued conversation about how the Scripture functions as a holy text for the community, how the creeds (especially the Apostles and Nicene) function as a hermeneutical key for reading Scripture, and how, in the case of Lutherans, being confessional contributes further to being authentic in confessing precisely how we read Scripture in relation to the life of church, and life in general.

Our primary texts for the class will be:

Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture, by Peter Leithart
Canon and Creed, by Robert Jenson
The Augsburg Confession (in brief as an example of a confession)
Harvesting the Fruits: Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue, Walter Kasper
Comparative Theology: Deep Learning Across Religious Borders, Francis X. Clooney

Over the course of the semester, we will read all of the primary texts as the basis for our conversation and learning. For the Comparative Theology component at the end of the class. Emily A. Holmes, professor of theology from Christian Brothers University, Memphis, will be a guest speaker as the capstone for the course. 

You can purchase the books at Nightbird, http://www.nightbirdbooks.com/ 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Raising Money for Ebenezer

Today we drove to Oaks, Oklahoma to visit Ebenezer Lutheran Church and the Oaks Indian Mission. Two parishioners volunteered to ride with me as we delivered money designated for the refurbishing of Ebenezer's parsonage. Our synod has been encouraging gifts for this project in order to prepare the congregation to call and house a new pastor. I figured it would be great to "pay it forward" by taking a collection at my installation that would help another neighboring congregation call their pastor.

Oaks Indian Mission has a long and fascinating history. The short version: it was begun as a Moravian mission with the Cherokee nation in Georgia (1801), travelled to Arkansas on the trail of tears, deepened Moravian missions in Oaks, and then became a Lutheran ministry when Danish Lutherans picked it up in 1902. It has remained a Lutheran ministry with Moravian roots ever since.

Today, the mission and church are separate but interlinked. The congregation has about 40 members, plus the approximately 30-40 children from the mission who attend worship. Oaks Indian Mission houses these children in four houses with house parents. In addition to the house parent, the mission also employs an executive director, a development director, and some other kitchen and secretarial staff. Most of the children are homeless, orphaned, neglected, or need to be placed in a residential facility because they lack a secure environment. Not all children at the mission are Indian, although most are.

Travis, our tour guide, estimated that perhaps nine tribes are represented by the children currently at the mission. Our visit began with donuts and fruit and coffee with the Ebenezer welcome committee and Travis, one of the house parents. The welcome committee is proud of their church and the history, and our conversation reminded me how wonderful it is (even sacred) to carve out time in busy days to simply go out and visit one another. I was so glad I hand-delivered the check, and brought parishioners along, rather than simply mailing it.

One woman, a lifelong member of the congregation, said something I will never forget. "I love our history, but I don't come to church to worship our history. I come to church to learn to be a Christian. And I don't worship Indian culture. I come to Christian worship AS an Indian." I need to remember to translate this insight into my own historical and cultural identity.

Then we began our tour. We stopped in at a couple of the homes for the year-round residence, as well as the main development office. Visitors are coming and going all year, and I was pleased to learn about the strong connection between many Lutheran churches from Nebraska and this mission. It makes sense given that Oaks is a Danish Lutheran mission. Fun to see so many signatories in the guest book from Blair and Dana College.

We took some time to see the bunk houses, currently being used for Camp Oaks (a Lutheran bible camp that meets at Oaks, although separate from Oaks Indian Mission AND Ebenezer Lutheran--getting confused yet?). We also toured the dining hall, where some of the kids who have remained at the mission for the summer were sorting recent supplies from Walmart. Then finally we stopped at the parsonage. It really is in poor shape and needs a lot of work. Compared to all the other buildings, it was in considerable disrepair. I was glad to know the check from my installation would go some way towards rectifying the situation.

Finally, we thanked Travis for the pleasant and informative tour, piled in my car, and made the drive back across Cherokee reservation to Arkansas and Siloam Springs, and finally back home. Although Oaks is about a one hour drive from Good Shepherd and Fayetteville, I think we are the closest Lutheran church to them. We are, literally, their closest denominational neighbors. It blows me away that the ELCA doesn't have a church in Siloam Springs (I think we'll work on fixing that situation soon!) But it reminded me also that although they're in a different state and an hour away, we need to strengthen and encourage networking between our congregations, because we are neighbors, and are on the same mission together--the mission of God.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jasper and the Buffalo

Yesterday we "floated" the Buffalo River outside of Jasper, Arkansas. A fellowship group from church was kind enough to invite us on their annual summer adventure. Made for a great father/son Father's Day weekend experience. The son and I traveled by various conveyances to make the day of it, including bike and Burley to church, car to Jasper, bus to the river, canoe on the river, and then all of these again in reverse order to get home. Half the fun of any adventure is getting there.

The surprise of the day was Jasper. I don't think I knew where we were going other than a river in central Arkanas. I've been spending some time reading Donald Harrington's wonderful Enduring, one of 20 novels in his series of Arkansas novels based on the fictional town of Stay More, Arkansas. Apparently Stay More is based, at least loosely, on Jasper, so it was a pleasure to spend time in the town that inspired the novels.

Jasper is very, very cute. There seem to be a good number of cute towns in Arkansas that thrive as starting off points for outdoor adventures. Although we didn't eat at the Ozark Cafe, they seem to have convinced everyone in the town to recommend it. What we did enjoy was the cute little coffee shop/bookstore, which made perhaps the best smoothies I have ever drunk.

But the highlight of the day was the canoeing itself. Although the water level was low, the float was perfect, especially it was the first time canoeing for my son. The Buffalo is full of smooth rounded stones, so even when you need to portage sections its very manageable to walk it. The bluffs along the river are carved and wend invitingly. Over the course of the day, we saw gar fish, Copperhead snakes, elk, deer, turtles, buzzards, hawks, mule, horse, etc. Some of the water holes on the Buffalo are deep enough that folks climb the cliffs and jump in, or build rope swings. Other spots are big open beaches suitable for picnics.

There were simply hundreds of canoers out floating, something that convinced me that Arkansans know how to recreate, and how to to do it outside, for real. As much as I've enjoyed the Wisconsin Dells and other quasi-outdoor recreational environments, there was something enduring and earthy about folks simply out canoeing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

1000 Pastors for a Moral Budget


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 
We are local pastors. Our lives are committed to our churches and communities. Every day we work to preach and live the Gospel of Christ. We challenge our congregations and parishes to live lives of personal responsibility and encourage them to live good and righteous lives. This also means calling our communities and nation to live up to corporate responsibilities. 

In every one of our congregations we have programs that help those in need with jobs, clothing, food, or counseling. We gladly take up the challenge of encouraging our congregation members to give more, but in these past few years, it has been difficult for us to watch the need around us rise while the resources we have diminish. We work, pray, and do whatever we can to remain faithful to the responsibility of every Christian to help the poor. Still, we can't meet the crushing needs by ourselves. We do our best to feed the hungry, but charitable nutrition programs only make up 6% of total feeding programs in the country while the government makes up 94%. 

In every one of our congregations we have members who receive much-needed support from government programs. We have seen this support allow young people to be the first members of their families to get college degrees, ensure mothers can feed their children a healthy diet, enable those with disabilities to live fulfilling lives, give much-needed medical care to those who can't afford it, support seniors, provide housing for families, and help people in finding a job.

SNAP, WIC, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Head Start, Pell Grants, and Community Development Block Grants aren't just abstract concepts to us; they serve the same people we serve. There are changes that can be made or efficiencies that can be found, but every day we see what government can do. There is more need today than Churches can meet by themselves. This is why we join in the "Circle of Protection."

As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up--how it treats those Jesus called "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources. The Christian community has an obligation to help them be heard, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected. We know from our experience of serving hungry and homeless people that these programs meet basic human needs and protect the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable. We believe that God is calling us to pray, fast, give alms, and to speak out for justice. 

As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We want to support you in reducing the deficit. Small business and job growth are essential part of the path to prosperity for all Americans. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that threaten the well-being and, in some cases, the lives of the neediest among us. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad. We urge you to prioritize them, and we pledge our support and prayers for you in doing so.
Affirmed and signed by,
Clint Schnekloth

Trinity Sunday | Paul Westermeyer on "Why We Sing"

Remember you're invited to a special Sunday at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Trinity Sunday, June 19th, is the inauguration of our new Alton Center Lecture and Concert Series, with guest speaker Paul Westermeyer of Luther Seminary. Westermeyer is professor of church music and cantor at Luther Seminary. He will speak at 9 a.m. in the Alton Center on the topic, "Why We Sing." Coffee and refreshments provided. 

At 10 a.m. we will process from the Alton Center to the sanctuary, where we will dedicate our new Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnals. This service will include introductions to the hymnal, new hymns, liturgical dance, special music, and a sermon by Westermeyer on "Perichoresis and the Dance and Song of Trinity." 

Please note this is a special one-service Sunday. We're a three service church, but on Trinity Sunday we are united One in Three. Hope to see you there, and bring a friend.

In the blessed name of the Trinity, 

Pastor Clint Schnekloth +
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
2925 Old Missouri Road
Fayetteville, AR 72703
phone: 479-521-2113
www.gslc-arkansas.org




"Connecting people to God through the Gospel of Christ"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A New Culture of Learning

You can read this book in a couple of hours, but to really integrate A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, you need to sit with the ideas in it for days and weeks and connect them to your teaching and leadership contexts. If the authors are correct, and I think they are, this is nothing short of a revolution in how we understand learning environments.

"The new culture of learning actually comprises two elements. The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything. The second is a bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries. The reason we have failed to embrace these notions is that neither one alone makes for effective learning. It is the combination of the two, and the interplay between them, that makes the new culture of learning so powerful" (19).

I'm especially intrigued by the authors' focus on Massively Multiplayer Online Games as learning environments, and the heuristic device (describing how youth and learners, actually anyone who "plays" engages their environment) in this fashion. Play is probably the most overlooked aspect in understanding how learning functions in culture, so it's worth analyzing in relationship to learning. They offer these three stages:

1. Hanging out- the first step in indwelling, asking, "What is my relationship to others?"

2. Messing around- tinkering, exploring, showing interest. "What am I able to explore?"

3. Geeking out- intense autonomous interest-driven engagement. "How can I utilize the available resources, both social and technological, for deep exploration?"

[Pause right now and imagine how these three function in your church, home, or workplace]

This is because, "in a world of near-constant flux, play becomes a strategy for embracing change, rather than a way for growing out of it" (48).

There are many other gems in the book, including analysis of collective learning. "The collective is, in the most basic sense, a group constantly playing with and reimagining its own identity" (58), which is, in my opinion, not a half-bad ecclesiological definition of the church!

"The new culture of learning nurtures collective indwelling. Until now, we have lacked the ability, resources, and connections to make this kind of learning scalable and powerful. With access to the nearly endless supply of collectives today, however, learning that is driven by passion and play is poised to significantly alter and extend our ability to think, innovate, and discover in ways that have not previously been possible. Most of all, it may allow us to ask questions that have never before been imaginable" (89).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Walking the Neighborhood: Day Two

Most people know or intuit that pastors are trained to read texts, and specifically to read the bible. It's true. Go to any seminary and there'll be plenty of classes on how to read--closely, carefully, critically, lovingly. However, what many don't know--and I didn't really know until I went to seminary--was that pastors in our tradition are also trained to read audiences, and to read communities. One of my first classes in seminary was "Reading the Audiences." We looked at demographic information, tools for reading communities, etc. Good stuff.

Since arriving in Fayetteville, I've spent as much time reading the community as reading Scripture, and I think this is a good thing. Part of loving a place is getting out into it, knowing it close at hand. Census data is great to read through, and I've done so recently, but it's never a replacement for hitting the streets.

So this is a summary of my second day of intentional walking in and around the environs of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. I hope it inspires readers from around the country and foreign shores to meet their neighbors in their own locales, and I hope it inspires parishioners in my own congregation to get out and walk their own neighbors. It takes a bit of chutzpah, but the Spirit gives you chutzpah, so go for it!

--

After coffee with the Love Bears group (where I was reminded that I really ought to be wearing a big brimmed hat on these walks--duly noted, and I will do so next week), I headed up the hill to try to meet staff of the three churches that are at the corner of Old Wire and Old Missouri. These churches are cute little places but I seldom see activity at them. Today was no exception. No luck meeting anyone. On the walk down Old Wire, I met a friendly young woman and recent graduate of the grad program at the U of A out playing with her two small children in the front yard. They attend Wednesday worship at St. Paul's Episcopal, and they were married by Pastor Bob, the pastor who preceded me at GSLC.

Then I stopped at the "undenominational" church on Old Wire, http://www.oldwireroadchurch.com/ Here's where I had my first good cultural experience of the day. I walked in the front door, which was open, and called out, "Hello?!" I got an answer, "Hello!" But no face. Walked down the hall, called again, and then had to crack open the door of the study of the preacher, who was still at his desk poring over commentaries on 1st Corinthians. This young man is the preacher at Old Wire Church, and we had a great conversation. He was doing what I always imagine real bible church pastors doing. They do battle with the devil locked away in a study reading commentaries and writing sermons and bible studies. It's a noble calling. I have an avuncular urge to boot such people out the door to walk the community, but I suppressed it.

So here's me, the gregarious Lutheran, intruding on his study. He was kind enough to chat with me for a while, we discovered some common theological interests, friended each other on Facebook, and I headed off to continue my walk. He, I assume, returned to biblical exegesis.

Walked down through a more gentrified part of Fayetteville right next to Gulley Park, well-kept lawns and lush fauna. Met a gentleman who works for AT&T and has no religious affiliation, learned a bit about the history of AT&T (it's 100 years old, etc.), then continued on down, giving a blessing to some construction workers putting in new sidewalk that is extending the already extensive Fayetteville trail system. Ran into the mother of the woman whose wedding I officiated two weeks prior. She was out with grandkids, on the second full day of summer, checking the stream between their house and our church, for snapping turtles, crawfish, and frogs. The definition of what all children should be doing weekdays in the summer. Good work, grandma!

Our carrilons tolled, so I headed in to interview custodial candidates. Then, back out for the walk. It's at this point that anyone reading this will realize that reading the community really actually includes not simply cultural discovery or attention to landscape architecture, but actually serious and intentional pastoral and theological work. The next gentleman I encountered was in town from Huntsville visiting his brother. His father had just had major by-pass surgery. He needed help backing his truck hitch under the post of his mother's camper (long story), so I helped him with this and heard a good portion of his life story, including every trip he'd ever made to Iowa. He didn't have a high opinion of Iowa (his loss), but I didn't contest it. Really nice chatty guy. His family wasn't church going, but they had a reverend in their life, a former baseball recruiter turned preacher, who apparently has a personal ministry with families in the Huntsville area.

About this time, I had become really really hungry, so I headed for Flying Burrito. En route, I stopped in at Fleet Feet to greet the workers there and confirm their Thursday 6 p.m. group run. Although my plan this summer is to cover a lot of ground every Tuesday, and get to lots of new places, I also think it is good to have some intentional haunts, places that are truly your places where you get to know workers and people by name. So far Mama Carmen's and Fleet Feet fall into that category for me. The Fleet Feet staff are university students, and share a common interest in running. I can connect well with them, so I'm giving it my best shot.

Behind the shopping mall is a mysterious looking building I had never stopped in at, so I walked to it, and discovered it is a day care and preschool, My Other Mother. There were about 70 children there, from 4 weeks up through 5th grade, nice open and engaging and friendly place.

Finally, I turned to Flying Burrito. Sat in the air-conditioning, ate their standard burrito with a special lime-jalapeno salsa, and cooled off a bit. Chatted up the staff, including a Fleet Feet worker who had followed me over for lunch, a kind of second career university student and runner who was a dead ringer for Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.

In the meantime, a university student and regular worshipper in our congregation texted me and asked if he could join me for awhile. He came over, we ate together, and then we started our walk up College.

I stopped in at a new natural paint and home improvement store on College with Tom. I think it is called Natural Building Solutions. The woman working the desk had just started the day before, is studying nursing, was feeling stressed out, but was still kind enough to give us a tour and tell us what she knew about the products. Cork flooring, natural limestone wall coloring, paints, toilets that use the water from hand-washing as the water for the flush, counter-tops made out of recycled paper.

All of that was interesting all by itself, but then it turns out this woman is Pentecostal. Ended up in a fascinating conversation. She wanted to know, since God gives the gift of tongues, why Lutherans don't speak in tongues. If we get the gift, do we just stifle it? Does God just pass over Lutheran churches and not give that gift?

Similarly, although she has been edified by the gift of tongues and interpretation in her own church, she herself doesn't speak in tongues. Good conversation, and was the first conversation I've had in Fayetteville with a Pentecostal on Pentecostalism in comparison to Lutheranism.

The university student, when asked how to define Lutheranism, said, "Catholic lite." He might be right. It's at least not an overly wordy and theological response.

Then, we tried to stop in and see a parishioner who manages the Fed Ex, but he had his day off, so we headed back up College, our student back to his work and studied, myself on to Mama Carmen's for a cup of joe. Finally, walked down Rolling Hills and met another neighbor, an older woman who attends the Church of Christ church downtown, just lost her husband last January, and was very pleased to meet a neighbor in the area. She had just moved into her house about four years ago (has everyone in Fayetteville just moved into town four years ago?) Then a quick stop to say hi to Steve Shelly pastor at Rolling Hills Baptist (with whom we do VBS each year), then the walk back to church, noting on the way in that a robin had built a nest directly above the entryway of the door none of us ever enter by--little baby robins peeking out.

So by my count, I met with an undenominational pastor, a non-religious telephone operator, a lapsed Catholic, an unchurched visitor who has a freelance pastor connection, a "hippie" runner, a Pentecostal from Rogers, walked with a Lutheran university student, met a neighbor from Church of Christ, and always the topic of religion came up naturally--I don't have a set of intentional questions leading anyone in any direction or trying to get them to come to our church, although I have thus far each Tuesday worn my collar.

You may wonder, what do you ask people on such walks? Well, it really varies, but I tend to ask people things like: How are you? How long have you been here? How do you like your neighborhood? Who are your neighbors? What's your store for, or what do you do here? If I'm standing in someone's yard, I like to talk about their garden and foliage. They're typically proud and eager to share.

Often you can tell very soon in the conversation whether people are open to a conversation. However, just like chess, although there are a limited set of opening moves that work well, once you're into the middle of the game or conversation, complexity sets in and there are all kinds of places you can go. That's why it's really like reading a text or Scripture. Knowing your mid-game is a complex art not acquired easily or quickly. It's a lifelong process.

Next week I plan to walk to http://butterfieldtrailvillage.com/, perhaps the nicest condo, assisted living, nursing home complex I've ever been to. Lots of interesting neighborhoods up that way, plus the country club and shops. Until next week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another week in the life of a pastor

Although there is never really a "typical" week, I'd say this past week was "par."

Tuesday--Morning staff meeting and visit to Love Bears group, then out for a long Tuesday walk of the community (about six hours); full description of that walk here.

Wednesday--Coffee shop meeting with Professor of Horticulture Curt Rom writing our grant for the Scientists in Congregations Templeton Foundation Grant. Remainder of morning devoted to worship preparations and office tasks. Evening three hour book discussion of Kenda Creasy Dean's important and transformative Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church. 20 folks in attendance, spectacular discussion making use of the discussion questions Dean provides on her web site, http://kendadean.com/. Six mile afternoon run with the Vibram five-fingers.

Thursday--I had intended to devote this entire day to some writing projects, especially work on my doctor of ministry dissertation proposal, but had a call from a family whose 93 year old mother had gone into the hospital, so visited there a good portion of the morning. Variety of tasks related to getting ready for Pentecost Sunday, phone calls to a variety of people on my tickler "to call" list, then actually did give some time to writing in the afternoon.

Friday--Full day with the family, morning all dad all the time while A worked on an index for a while. Evening trip up to the Bentonville Arts Festival... very late evening stop at the hospital to visit a parishioner.

Saturday--Full day with the family. Yay! Garden projects, lots of imaginative play, third run of the week, this time with the kids to the park, and the only real "work" was pulling together themes for the sermon and finishing two books I had been reading, Political Theology: An Introduction and Alan Jacob's The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, both of which, in oblique ways, fed into preaching and teaching plans for the summer and fall.

Sunday--Pentecost worship with reader's theater, birthday hats with pipecleaner flames of fire emerging, Pentecost sermon that, from a biblical perspective, we do not meet God primarily in our experiences internally, or in the cosmos, but rather in our neighbor. Audio here: http://www.gslc-arkansas.org/weeklysermon/Sermons.htm CW practice between 2nd and 3rd service, then a lunch and learning event with Stephen's Ministry team at 1 p.m. Evening supper with our Shepherding Group at a family's house, Frogmore stew. Since we live so close to the church, our family walked to the supper, and we met some parishioners who live very close to us that we didn't know were so close.

Monday--Marathon day! 8 a.m. Stephen's Ministry planning meeting; 9 a.m. 3rd grade bibles planning meeting;10 a.m. LWF Youth Together planning meeting; 11 a.m. Pre-baptismal class, noon-3 Almost Christian book discussion, day time group; 3 p.m. Funeral planning with a family; 5:30 p.m. Custodian interviews, concluding at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

Alan Jacob's The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction is un-put-downable. The book is exactly what the title indicates, but what sets his book apart from many other books written on the art of reading is his charitable approach to the topic. Rather than offering legalisms, advice, or critical analysis of other approaches, Jacob's seeks to find the best in whatever he reads.

He also acknowledges that. although we might all know what we should do ideally in order to create space for reading, "should do" is always easier said than done.

His most fundamental advice to readers who ask, "What should I read this summer?" or "What are the best books to read?" is, "Read at whim." This is great advice, at least for those who no longer have a syllabus they need to accomplish for a class. "Read what gives you delight--at least most of the time--and do so without shame" (23).

I have found it to be the case that although in some ways new media distracts me from reading, I still read as much, perhaps even more, than I used to, and so I don't always resonate with the doomsayers who say new technologies and media are killing reading. Jacobs by and large agrees.

But the most winning thing about Jacob's book is how lovely it is. A long essay on the joys of reading, pure and simple.

"I simply want to emphasize that, having better understood the near-miracle of our ability to decode marks on paper, we are left with a truth equally remarkable: that some of us greatly desire to do so, and that some of us find abiding consolation in what we encounter when our eyes scan words on the page in those strange jerky saccades" (33).

"Let us start by returning to the case of the readers as a fan: the person who has read all the Narnia books or all of Dicken's novels, and who wonders where to turn, especially if fanfiction and professional sequels don't seem to help. One possible, and rather simple, expedient is this: we can turn our temporal attention upstream rather than downstream--toward what preceded Tolkein or Austen or whomever rather than what succeeded them" (43).

"If you write the question in the book's margins--even if you just scrawl a question mark--you are marking the scene of your confusion" (56).

"Though few people realize it, many books become more boring the faster you read them" (74).

Jacobs tends to like Kindles, as do I, something else we share in common. I so would like to meet Jacobs. He has won me over by his prose!

"This is why attentiveness is worth cultivating: not just because it is good for you or because it can help you organize your world, but because such raptness is deeply satisfying. It is, really, what Whim is all about; what Whim is for" (86).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blues Brothers or Tron:Legacy as Analogies for Church

Here's a fun Friday reflection. Lately, everyone in church is talking about mission and missional church. My favorite quote relative to this is the The Blues Brothers, "We're on a mission from God." Although the movie isn't quite an exemplar of how church life ought to go, the notion that we're "sent" is illustrated well in the movie. God sends us on a mission into God's world.

However, lately I've been pondering another metaphor I learned in a movie. What if the church is actually isomorphic. Algorhythmically speaking, is the church, each church, and each individual Christian, an isomorph of Christ? Tron: Legacy is the movie that has the fascinating concept of isomorphic computer programs that are "living" programs that arose isomorphically from the system itself. I kind of think that's what the church is, from a Trinitarian participationist perspective.

However, this leaves unaddressed, which of these movies would we better live into as a church? The Blues Brothers clearly has better music, but for me it's a toss-up which actors wear cooler clothes and ride nicer vehicles. Both are "cool" in their own way, and I for one would love for the church to care a little bit more about the cool and the hip, at least inasmuch as we take pride in who we are and share that pride through justice and love with others. Isomorphs on a mission, or some such. Friday blessings!

Tron: Legacy